Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 641: FlorenceBy.com, Residenza Strozzi
Sleeps 2, Florence
July 2003, One week
This is a very special, unique property, which is a restored chapel on the Strozzi-Ricardo villa in the Settignano Hills on the outskirts of the city. The property, and especially the chapel, were stunning. The ceiling alone looks like something out of the Vatican. It shows that the owners put heart and soul into the restoration.
The chapel was right next to the restored gardener's house, where the current owners live, and adjacent to the main mansion, which is now owned/lived in by two foreign families. On the very extensive grounds are several other privately owned cottages. The view of the city, with Duomo and all, was really lovely, and the property was very peaceful and quiet.
We had a car, and drove three minutes to the nearest bar/deli/bus stop, where we boarded the city bus to go to the historic center of Florence. On our way back, we stopped at the local deli to pick up antipastos and pasta, wine, bread, etc. for light dinners. The nearest large grocery store was on the bus route. There were some neighborhood restaurants nearby, but we ate mostly either at restaurants downtown, or cooked at the property.
Also, the owners offer a Tuscan dinner, 60 Euros per couple, which was really outstanding.
Yes, the property is 17th century and has a very colorful history. Among other things, it was Nazi military headquarters during WWII, and later British military headquarters. Prisoners were kept in the cellar.
The chapel was in spectacular shape, extremely comfortable, lots of decorator and art restoration books and magazines, plus guidebooks and maps were there.
The grounds were lovely for walking in, the owners are considering putting in a pool.
The furnishings were almost all antiques, some quite valuable, the restoration was extremely well done, as was the art restoration. It was impeccably clean.
Beds/bathroom very comfortable. The bedroom is under the most spectacular ceiling you can imagine sleeping under.
The kitchenette was fine for breakfasts, had plenty of pots and pans and dishes, they were of excellent quality, as were the table linens. We cooked pasta mostly. It would have been too small to cook much more.
Problems or Bonuses
Our surprise was that the chapel was more beautiful than the pictures on the website suggested.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The people from Florenceby.com were extremely helpful and attentive. The owners, Guido and Pia Casalone, were very friendly, helpful and proud of their property. The restoration was clearly a labor of love. Pia also invited my husband to cook part of the meal we had with the Casalones, which he said was better than any cooking classes he has had. Also, Guido made us a CD-rom of their favorite Italian recipies. And he let our 6-year-old play with their ping-pong table and with their son's toys.
Guido spoke some English and understood it very well; Pia needed some translation, but we managed to communicate in the end. They are lovely people.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would love to stay there again, and have already recommended it to several friends.
Things to do in this area
The obvious Florentine attractions, plus you can take a back road to Fiesole.
My 13-year-old daughter and I took an artisan's tour through Enoteca Giraldo. It was a bit pricey, but very interesting.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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